I am going to pull the trigger on one of these for my vpi scout soon. Will report back on my impressions.
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I had a 103 (don't remember which exact one) many, many years ago and really enjoyed it until I found the stylus missing after a party we had at the house one night. The sound was smooth and soothing, and it handled Jazz and New Wave with equal aplomb. I moved on to a Blue Point Special after the demise of the Denon, and from there got into "higher and higher" high end stuff and forgot about the old Denon until now. I'm opening up a wine bar in a few months and will have a decent stereo system in the joint so we can have some "spin your own vinyl" nights and give the customer base a glimpse of high-end audio. Just bought one of the 301 mk II's for the table I'll be using after long consideration of the potential abuse the cartridge may suffer in such an environment, and will be looking forward to hearing the "Denon Sound" once again. Thanks for the insightful review and it convinced me I made the right choice.
I have both the DL-301 mk II and a DL-103R. I also have two SL-1200's, one with the stock arm and one with a Jelco SA-750D. The 103R sounds and tracks ok on the the stock arm, but really shines on the Jelco. While tracking fine, The 301 mk II sounds very recessed and closed-off on both the stock arm and the Jelco, even when experimenting with various load settings. In fact, I was ready to give up on the 301 mk II until I tried it on a Denon DA-401 low-mass tonearm that was on a DP-6000 that I recently picked up--it really opened up compared to its performance on the the other two arms. On a low-mass tonearm, or at least the DA-401, the 301 mk II is a remarkable cartridge. Based on my experience, those who find its sound less than satisfying have yet to try it matched to the correct arm.
Rupertin, coils can be more detailed and have a spacious sound stage. The Denon 304 was one of the most detailed cartridges I've heard. If price is no object most would say moving coil or moving iron designs are better than moving magnet designs. At low to mid prices, it's a closer call IMO. Coils are also more finicky with impedance matching and gain, you need to invest in a MC gain phono stage, or a step up transformer- neither of which will necessarily be the optimum gain and loading for your MC cartridge. Denon Recommends 100 ohm load, yet this thread says some like it best at 400 ohms- but how do you get 400 ohms- to get an idea of what you are in for getting into MC cartridges.
I own the 301 mkII and ferrari did a good review. Like he says its not the be all cartridge but like other Denons, a very good value, especially if you feel you don't want to go beyond into the ultra pricey esoteric brands.
I have installed a new Denon DL301 Mk II in my VPI Traveler and am using it to dive a pair of the Shure SUTS one can buy on ebay for $45/pair. Am at the 10 hour break in point now.
This combination feeds my beloved 1964 Marantz 7c preamp. Power amp is the Marantz 8b and speakers are a pair of 1980 Klipsch LaScalas. Speaker cables are Luminous Audio Synchestra Reference Ono single crystal cast copper.
I am very happy with the sound of the DL310 MkII over the DL160 and Shure V15 Type III I was using previously.
Favorite LPs are the 1950 and early 1960 Les Elgart. They will take your breath away!!
Best to you, Bruce
I'm curious if you experimented with different loading impedances other than 100 ohms? Granted it depends on the system used but would the cart benefit from a higher loading in the range of 600-1000 ohms?
Reason I ask is many users find it sounding nice above 400 ohms and again that's their preference. I'm just curious about the cart itself and the small electric motor it is for lack of better terms, do higher loadings adversely affect the nature of the cart?